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Thin-layer Salt Marsh Sediment Augmentation on the Pacific Coast

Stranded light-footed clapper rail on seal beach nwrThe USFWS applied a thin-layer of sediment over 10 acres of existing low salt marsh habitat on the refuge in 2016.

Subsidence, limited sediment accretion, and sea level rise all contribute to the complete inundation of the Refuge’s Pacific cordgrass (Spartina folisa). During the higher high tides, the water level eliminates natural nesting areas for the rail. 

This pilot project is not only intended to improve the habitat quality for the rail, but also to evaluate the success of this project as a regional strategy to combat sea level rise. Hopefully, this will ensure long term sustainability of coastal marshes along the Pacific Coast.
Through a partnership with local, State, and Federal agencies, USFWS has secured adequate funding to support pre- and post-sediment augmentation monitoring on the project site and a nearby control site for five years. A sediment application guidance document will also be prepared to describe the process and lessons learned.
Funding for this project has been provided by:
 usfws -75 OC parks CC cdfw USACE

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - 2015 Cooperative Recovery Initiative Grant   
California Coastal Conservancy Grant 
Orange County, OC Parks - Sediment and Application Contract   
California Department of Fish and Wildlife - Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program  
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Ecosystem Management & Restoration Research Program

Meet the Research Team

A team of researchers has been assembled to monitor the marsh's response to sediment application. The results will be shared with Federal, State, and local agencies, land managers, and others to assist in further developing this sea level rise adaptation strategy.  
UCLA – Richard Ambrose, Ph.D. & Glen MacDonald, Ph.D. 
CSU Long Beach – Christine Whitcraft, Ph.D.
Chapman University – Jason Keller, Ph.D.
Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy – Richard Zembal, Ph.D. and Susan Hoffman
Friends of Seal Beach NWR – John Fitch and Carolyn Vance

 Other Partners include:

Jeff Crooks, Ph.D., Research Coordinator, Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Contaminants Program, Coastal Program, I&M, and CA LCC
Moffatt & Nichol (Engineering contractor)
Curtin Maritime (Dredge contactor)



Webinars are also online:




Additional project information can be found in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and Final Environmental Assessment.

For more information on this project, please contact:
Kirk Gilligan, Seal Beach NWR Refuge Manager
(562) 598-1024
Evyan Borgnis, Project Manager, CA State Coastal Conservancy
(510) 286-1883



Last Updated: Feb 01, 2017
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